Boeing Defense, Space and Security released the first view of the single-engine, single-rotor helicopter it is proposing to the U.S. Army as part of the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft prototype competition, initiated in 2018. The goal of the contest, part of the Army's broader Future Vertical Lift program, is to develop a successor to the Bell OH-58 Kiowa scout helicopters used for observation, utility, and direct fire support.
Boeing emphasized that its FARA design meets the Army’s current mission needs "while evolving as technologies and missions change. The thrust-compounded, single-main rotor helicopter has a six-bladed rotor, a single engine, tandem seating, and a modular cockpit with a reconfigurable, large area display and autonomous capabilities.
“We’re offering more than a helicopter," stated Mark Cherry, vice president and general manager of Boeing’s Phantom Works. "We’re offering an affordable and fully integrated system for the Army, the mission and the future. We’ve blended innovation, ingenuity and proven rotorcraft experience with extensive testing and advanced analysis to offer a very compelling solution.”
It added that the system will be "seamless" within the Army's weapons systems, including long-range precision firing and air-launched effects.
The FARA competition awarded design in April 2019 to AVX Aircraft, Bell Helicopter, Boeing, Karem Aircraft, and Sikorsky Aircraft. Two manufacturers will be selected to proceed with their designs this year, and the prototypes will be delivered in 2023.
The Bell OH-58 Kiowa has been retired since 2014. Three earlier programs to select a future multi-purpose helicopter have been canceled, and the Army relies now on the Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopter for reconnaissance and direct fire support.